Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Purity, Paradoxes and Pesticides

Attitude Floor and Wood cleaner.

I just found a product I've been looking for. Something to polish wood that isn't toxic. Lately, I inherited some antique furniture but I am loathe to clean it, as I do not like furniture polishes.

Now, admittedly, my job as a child was to polish the furniture, using Pledge (oil and aerosol) and also to clean the bathtub, using Old Dutch Powder. All this crap going into my young lungs, mixing with the ubiquitous clouds of second hand smoke.

But parents didn't worry about such things back then. They didn't worry much. It was good times, stable times for the middle class, give or take a Cuban Missile Crisis or two.

I guess the threat of nuclear war looming over the planet made every other worry pale in comparison.

Well, the prosperity helped, too.

Pledge, Old Dutch, DDT and all the sweet smelling lead emanating from the tail pipes of those bright pink T-Birds with the big fancy tailfins.

And the 60's air pollution in the city. Legend. Any person who lived in the suburbs or country knew that a visit to the city meant smelly hair and even smokey underwear.

OK. All that and I've had only one serious lung disease, pneumonia, when my own kids were about 10, caused by being run down and by being prescribed too many anti-biotics for little things like sore throat and then this mighty bug swept through our household and I didn't have the resistance to fight it.

Anyway, if the 60's were bad, the crap in our food has only gotten worse. So I do buy organic veggies when I can and 'artisanal' meats like free-range chicken, which, our course, actually has texture and taste.

But the other day I had to laugh or cry. I was visiting my sister in law, in her beautiful home with the cathedral windows and she found ants in the kitchen and began spraying all over with Raid.

I turned to my husband and said, "There go all the benefits from eating organic for the past 10 years."

The woman, a product of the 50's, is intrepid when it comes to dirt and bugs and such. The stronger the cleaner the better.

And I only use these Attitude Products. Which are fine. For cleanliness. For that 50's pristine look, well go elsewhere.

Now, my story Threshold Girl at www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf
is about the 1910 era, the era of Pure Soap, Pure Water and Pure Women.

The Soap-Industrial Complex got a toehold in that era. In large part because dirty homes (and the mostly immigrant women who kept them) were being blamed for all the problems of industrialization. All the bodily illnesses and all the 'moral' ones too.

The adage "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" was not a mere metaphor, back then, it was to be taken LITERALLY. And it gave the moral high ground automatically to the elite and upper middle class who could afford servants. And this ideology filtered down through the century, reaching a kind of apex in the 1950's, for it was used to drive women back into the home after the war.

And these cleaning product companies, that promoted PURITY above all, became GIANTS over the century and now many of them make anti-cancer and asthma drugs too. And pesticides too. Kind of weird, I'd say.But good for business. And, as we all know in today's world WHATEVER IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS is "GOOD."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Edie in the Sky with Diamonds Stoned

Yesterday I read that the Province of Alberta has four times the amount of prescriptions drug abuse as Quebec. They don't know why.

I can hazard a guess...:)

When I was in my 20's I had a close friend who was hooked on some prescription pain killer. She had an important job and few noticed she was in la la land most of the time.

Can't recall which drug it was. A powerful one. She had multiple prescriptions and one day she overdosed and I had to bring her to emergency where they let her writhe in pain on her gurney for hours.

I had an inkling they were doing this on purpose, but maybe not. I vividly recall that day I spent in ER because I wasn't sick, so I got to watch all the human drama unfolding around, and that day ER I recall was like an episode of ER the TV show, I tell you.

A man died and his two kids (youths) were reacting in opposite ways:the daughter wailing and the son with his head in a textbook.

I heard a doctor tell another that the same man had presented the day before with a paralyzed finger and they had sent him home... and then he presented again.... anyway, it sounded like the doctor was describing how his case had been mismanaged, like Mrs. Haufnagel on St. Elsewhere.

Anyway, I took a Tylenol blue pill yesterday, just one, to see if it helped my blocked ears, which are acting up. I'm using a homeopathic remedy.. I don't like taking drugs of any kind. (Except the one that pours from a bottle and comes from grapes.)

I am clearly a rarity today. And the modern doctor loves to give pills. (A recent Salon.com article claimed that in the old days doctors did everything they could not to give a pill, now they do the opposite. No time. Easier. They really are "pill pushers.")

When my husband goes for a checkup, his doctor now always offers him Viagra, just out of the blue. My husband is totally healthy, but he is asked if he wants this 'recreational' drug, so the doctor must ask all the older guys. (Last time I told my husband to say that he didn't need Viagra, but he could sure use Angelina Jolie. Viagra is not an aphrodesiac, as far as I know, but it is treated as one. Ps. and the ads say that 40 percent of men over a certain age have this condition on occasion. Then it isn't a condition, is it? It's normal.

The same goes for Prozac. If a huge proportion of the population is depressed (and the prescribing statistics for these anti-depression drugs seem to suggest it is.. One fifth of the population of Glasgow is on some sort of anti-depressant apparently) then depression is normal - especially in Scots.. So these drugs are merely mood enhancers. The same Salon article says that depression in now something to be 'managed' and not be 'cured'. Managing makes more money than curing, you see. Almost 9 percent of Americans are on the drugs,and the figure is ever rising, but not African Americans, oddly, who have something to be sad about if the recent NYT article, saying that MLK is weeping in his grave is true.


(But managing your mood with marijuana is bad, very bad. Well, were it legal, it couldn't make money for Big Pharma, so better that it make money for Big Crime, and provide an excuse to abritrarily incarcerate certain racial groups. That's the logic anyway.)

They don't talk about this on the News, because were it not for advertising from Big Pharma, the mainstream media would be dead as nail in door. An awful lot has changed since they allowed Pharmaceutical Companies to sell directly to civilians and not just to doctors. And the way the announcers race through the list of possible side effects at the end of these drug ads, makes it sound funny, like a joke. Indeed, the side effect of Viagra have reached iconic joke status in TV sitcoms and movies.

The prescription drugs Alberta's citizens are abusing are opiods. Probably akin to the drugs found in 'tonics' in 1900.

I am writing Edith's Story, the follow up to Threshold Girl www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf

and I have her stoned on some tonic as she goes to the Art Show.

I know for a fact her principal, who was also medical doctor, gave her tonics for 'heart' conditions. So he probably really dosed her here after the death of her fiance. And there were always those medicines for La Grippe.

So has it really changed that much? People in those days, women mostly, were going out stoned too. (It's only coincidental that she was a Canadian Scot.) They were just outlawing opiates in every day products.. In the US, especially, which is why the Patent Medicine People all moved to Brockville, Ontario.

I read an ad for a baby medicine that proudly claimed Contains no Opiates. Imagine.

Of course they famously sedated housewives in the 50's with Valium.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lots of Nothing..

My wix website at www.wix.com/dottynixon/frontpage

leading to Threshold Girl at www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf

and to my Threshold Girl blog at

and I hope to put a page on Red Room the author's site.

All very complicated.

As I write The 1912 Diary of Edith Nicholson,
a first bit posted at www.tighsolas.ca/page11.pdf.pdf

I'm not in a very focused or creative mood. So, I just plug away. I described the 1908 Tercentenary today, in Edith's Diary.

A huge pageant, a military show of force, on the Plains of Abrahama, totally forgotten for some reason, probably WWI, the event that likely was anticipated what with the Prince of Wales coming in on the battleship Indomitable...

And I'm watching Bringing Up Baby, sort of, after having done a good part of the second level of aeropilates, which is quite good.

Most home exercise machines are nonsense, but this one really works, in that I feel better than I have in a long time; Indeed, I wish I had this machine in my 20's and 30's. I bought a rowing machine after my first kid and it RUINED my knees.. and I had achey knees for years and years. There were times I couldn't go up stairs and I simply stopped running anywhere.
I was told my the doctor I some condition where my kneecaps had gotten, I dunno, roughed up and the doctor said, I shouldn't run downhill.

A USELESS therapist just gave me hell for doing STEP...and used water pressure to break up cartilege.

A few years ago I went to the gym and a personal trainer fixed me up quickly, with simple exercises that aligned my knees with my ankles, (Genius!) but I ran out of money for this type of thing, that is not covered by insurance, but should be, and now I have been using this machine, aero pilates and my knees are 100 percent and my back (which started to ache only in the past few years) is 98 percent. And I generally feel great.

I got in on the Shopping Channel.. by Stamina. Or course, the woman promoting it is some Scandinavian and my brother lives in Copenhagen,and I've been there, and I have no delusions...

But I really like this exercise. I do a little dancing to with this show The Barefoot Dancer. That's all I do.

Like everyone else I am fighting a 100 year trend that makes us eat more calories, while we do far far far less activity. The Nicholson women walked everywhere, in their lace up boots and corsets. And it took a long long time to prepare food. And IT WASN'T PROCESSED. Although certain famous products were being introduced. Heinz. Jello.

I also have an era picture of a swim club, a hundred young men. All thin, all with muscular thighs. Too bad women covered themselves from head to foot, so I can't tell if their legs were muscular. But I bet they were.

(And they weighed themselves with CLOTHES on.. Edith says she is 137. Marion 130... No way.,

Friday, August 26, 2011

Who's Who in Canada 1910, Woman-wise

Madame Albani, the Internationally famous French Canadian opera singer from the 1900 era. The Nicholson women heard her sing in 1906. I have a playbill.

I recently  found a copy of a 1910 Canadian Who's Who and on one of the first pages I saw this Madame Albani,  otherwise known as Emma Lajeunesse of Chambly, Quebec.

 Julia Grace Parker Drummond

So I decided to scan the book to see how many other Canadian women were included.

First, I tripped over tp the D's to see if Julia Grace Parker Drummond, the wealthy Montreal social advocate, was listed there. She is!

Her husband, George Drummond, former President of Redpath sugar, isn't there because he had died the year before.

Julia Grace  has a long listing. "One of the founders and first President of the Canadian Women's Club of Montreal. Then her many leadership positions are listed.

 Lady Drummond is portrayed in my e-books Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster,

I then looked for Carrie Derick, the McGill University scientist and President of the Montreal Council of Woman from 1909-1912.

She was listed as well, as Assistant Professor of Botany, McGill. Carrie's Story is told in Furies Cross the Mersey

In 1912 she would be made a full professor, Canada's first female full professor, but the post would be somewhat symbolic as she got no raise in salary or extra duties.

Derick's many academic accomplishments are mentioned: Gold Medalist at McGill, first female faculty member at McGilll 1891, but the listing  leaves out her McGill Normal School teaching work.

(Now, THAT says something about how low in people's esteem the teaching profession was generally held.

In fact there are no educators listed in this Who's Who, despite the fact there were quite a few women prominent in that field.)

Then I proceeded to go through the entire book, from A to Z,  to see how many other illustrious Canadian females are listed.

Taking a rough guess, there is one woman listed for about every three pages of men listed, with about 10 listings to a page.

So 1 in 30 on the 1910 Canadian Who's Who is a woman.

And often the woman is of little accomplishment like Mrs. Valance Patriarche, a literary dilletante from the looks of it.

In fact, it seems any journalistic credentials got a  woman into the Canadian Who's Who.

A few articles published here, a few poems there, that's all it took.

Nellie McClung is listed, but only as a minor writer. Lucy Maude Montgomery, who published Anne of Green Gables in 1908, isn't there at all.

Francis Fenwick Williams, the Montreal author who was on the Montreal Suffrage Association Board of Directors in 1913-1919 and who wrote Soul on Fire in 1915, isn't there.

For an actress to be listed, she has had to have won international acclaim, or at least American acclaim. (Some things don't change.)

And that pretty well goes for the other females listed. Hence the listing for Madame Albani, who apparently was a favourite at London's Covent Garden.

Mary Riter Hamilton, the impressionist painter, isn't there, either. Only one woman painter is on the list and that's  Mary Ella Dingham. Education Paris, France and Italy. Exhibitor in many European and North American exhibitions. President of the Women's Art Association of Canada.

And, of course, Emily Carr isn't there either. She was in France in 1910, I think, perfecting her technique.

There's one nurse on the list and one professor of Philosophy at Wellesley College: Miss Eliza Richie, daughter of a Supreme Court Judge in Nova Scotia.

Only one woman doctor is listed (if I counted right)  and no lawyer, although there was one famous woman lawyer being written about in the era magazines, Mabel French. I've a post about her on this blog.

And there's a a missionary, working with her (more famous) husband.

And a couple of musicians who have performed internationally including Miss Evelyn Street, Second Violinist, American String Quartet of Boston.

And just like today, there are Canadian-born women who have made a mark entirely in the US: Miss Annie Diggs of London, Ontario, worker for temperance, chairman of D.C. People's Party and a Suffragette in Kansas. Writer of short stories and a lecturer in sociology.

Why is this interesting in the context of Threshold Girl story?  Because in 1910, it was widely believed that a young woman could enter any profession she desired, although most 'sensible' women wanted to be mothers and wives.

It was widely proclaimed that all doors were now open to women and that no more barriers existed to a woman's career ambitions.

Even Carrie Derick wrote this into her 1912 report  to the Royal Commission on Industrial Training and Technical Education. in her capacity as President of Montreal Local Council.

Magazine articles of the day liked to feature heady stories about women making, say, 10,000 dollars a year, when the 'average' salary for a man was 1,000 dollars a year.

And just like today, pretty actresses were often written about in magazines, but in real life they were both put on pedestals and vilified as one step above a prostitute.

The two women scientists I saw in the Who's Who, Carrie Derick and someone else whose name escapes me, were both botanists.

 I suspect botany was considered a soft science because of its association with flowers and art.

A bit from a Montreal Gazette special feature on Flora in Canada written by Derick but without a by-line.

In Threshold Girl I bring this up...as Flora Nicholson likes to draw so does well in botany.

But Carrie Derick's botany background (and her understanding of Mendel's genetics and pea pods) gave her a great deal of street-cred in a very iffy area, eugenics.

She gave many public lectures on the subject in the era and as Education Chair of the Canadian Council of Women in the 1920's and 30's she went on to influence for decades how "mental defectives' were treated in many  schools across Canada.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Motion pictures, movies, films, cinema,ditial movies, interactive

My husband noticed a while back that the plaque on the old Ouimetoscope building had disappeared. A few days later he noticed that a historic placard of sorts, commemorating the Ouimetoscope was placed in the neighbourhood. Yesterday, he noticed that the Ouimetoscope building is being converted into condos, keeping the historic name.

Hmm. Good, I guess. If you can't turn it back into a theatre.

I've written a lot about Montreal in the Nickelodeon era.. and Threshold Girl is available at www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf

Threshold Girl tells the story of Flora Nicholson in 1911 as she attends Macdonald Teaching College. And it has public domain pictures from the Delineator Magazines of the era.

I've decided to do the follow up about her sister Edith and call it The Diary of a Confirmed Spinster. It's here in drafty form.. www.tighsolas.ca/page11.pdf.pdf

It's kind of a storyboard thing...Recently, I saw (read) an NFB digital story about a town closing down in Canada, called Welcome to... ah.. Pinpoint and thought it lovely. It's award winning.

So I decided to describe Edith's Story, which is a mix of fiction and fact, more visually. I'm not using any film, or streaming video or whatever, but this story is about the film era and I am going to work hard to capture that flavour.

It's a work in progress.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Newsflash; Today and One Hundred Years Ago

I spend a lot of time reading the news on the web, reading US, UK and Canadian sources(the sensible ones) so I thought I’d check out the Google News ‘favorite search’ list for today, 20th of August – to see what the hoi polloi is interested in.

I started with the letter A for Canada (English). Amy Winehouse is first, then Ayano Tokumasu,the poor girl who fell over fence at the Niagara Falls, apple, air canada and aecl which is a story related to Fukishuma, some rod provided by Canada, whereas in the UK, although Amy Winehouse is top search subject and comes up once or twice more in the top ten, Arsenal comes in second, Andy Murray, Amir Khan, aston villa, Amy Childs are also on the list. Hmm. Arsenal is a soccer team. I’ve read Fever Pitch. Andy Murray, wasn’t he on one of those Extras episodes?

Hmm. I spend a lot of time on the Guardian website, but I know none of these names. Wait, Andy Murray is a tennis player. (I didn’t watch the Rogers Canadian Open last week; too busy watching my savings go down, down down, up, down, UP UP, down down down. Who needed tennis? (Soon my cat will be watching CNBC.) Amy Childs is a person on Big Brother. So entertainment issues were tops here in the UK. I guess they need a break from the week or two of heavy duty news they just endured.

( In the US for the letter Amy Winehouse, apple, Anderson Cooper, android, Amanda Knox,Antoinette Stephen, amateur radio,amazon and yes, Arsenal. Was the team bought by US concern? I wonder….. No. Hmm. Well, I know who Anderson Cooper is, and I know amazon, but why amateur radio? Checked, can’t see why it comes up so high. Amanda Knox is involved in a murder trial. and Anoinette Stephen is another murder story. Very taboid interests!

Oh, and since I live in French Canada, I checked their 10 ten news searches. Yes, Amy Winehouse first. Algerie, apple, ashton kutcher (who according to headline, forgets the details of his investments, and angelina jolie who is buying a house with Brad Pitt in England. At least they can afford it but how is this news? So what? Like I fed the cat this morning.

The fact that I just had to check the spelling of these two pretty folks’s names, says something about me. Then Android. What is Android? I ask, sounding like one of the bubble-headed beauties in the first Star Trek..Oh, something to to with Google.

burundi, bombardier, barak obama,bute, bell, bourse, black keys, britney spears, beyonce.. (I’m using this as a memory exercise, since I can’t keep both windows open together. I am NOT good at this. I can keep three items in my brain at best. I keep having to go back. Scary, since I think this is similar to a test they give for Alzheimer’s. Note to self: Must practice more memory games!)

That’s the B’s for French Canada. Bourse is the Stock Market. It's also the word for purse, as in "je n'ai rien dans ma bourse." I bet that’s been one the the favourites in all Western Countries all week.

English Canada: blue jays, big brother Blackberry, brad richards.bluesfest, brad griffith, bombardier

UK: big brother, bbc sport, big brother 2011, bbc, bbcnews, (and they want to cut back on BBC funding?) beyonce, beckham, british open, borders, black ops, boeing.beyonce bachman, breaking bad then, funny enough, betty ford, brett favre

US: bank of america, booton shooting, burger king

and a random letter for fun: (I close my eyes and touch the keyboard)…mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
memphis 3, murdoch, machbook air, mumbai, mexico, memphis three, mobile, that’s the US for M.

The UK..man utd, that’s Manchester United for cool people, mata, manchester united ,for boring people, madeline mccann (another alleged sighting) murdoch, metsut ozil, man city, modric (whaaa?)Manchester City, Michael Jackson

Canada Anglais: Montreal, Maple Leafs, Murdoch, mac book air, Mayor Rob Ford, Mumbai.. why Montreal? Did something happen here? OH, our major cities all show up tops in their letter.
Canada French:maroc, martine obry, monaco, meteo, mylene farmer, messi, marseilles, mercato,mesut ozil (who is a footballer.)

Oh, and I noticed, these ‘favorites’ change pretty fast.

I don’t know what this proves… a sliver of a sample…..My top news searches would not fall into any of these catagories.. but that’s because I am an English Canadian living in Quebec. We just don’t fit in anywhere.

I guess I’ll get back to living in the past, 100 years ago as I write Edith’s Story, about a young woman and the suffragettes in 1910, which is a follow up to Threshold Girl www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf about a college student in 1910. L. P. Hartley wrote that the Past in a Foreign Country, but he’s wrong, I think. It’s familiar territory as human nature is very predictable.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading era newspapers, especially the Montreal Gazette. People’s interests, when it comes to the news, has really not changed much. The big difference, Minister’s Sermons and lectures aren’t reported on in the newspaper any more. (I’m glad they were, for this is very useful to me as I write this book about Presybeterian women, after all.

The Home Secretary, in 1910, (I think it was Winston Churchill) sure came down on the suffragettes, in much the same way Prime Minister David Cameron (who was No. 4 on the news list, after David Haye, David Tennant, and NO. 1 the Duchess of Cambridge, has come down on this year’s rioters in England, the education-fee protesters and the unemployed youth looters of last week.

I think Mr. Churchill used the same confrontation rhetoric against any threat: women who rallied for the vote and broke a window or two; skinny Indians who promoted peaceful resistance; and the Third Reich. Churchill’s tone was appropriate for the war years, at least, and he was voted The Greatest Briton of the Century for it.

Yes, no reporter has to sit through a sermon anymore, thank GOODNESS..The clergy has no clout today… but then, with Perry prayer vigils and the Tea Party people, maybe it’s deja vu all over again..

What Edith Sees That Day!

The First Gift, by Mary Riter Hamilton.

This is the other Riter Hamilton painting Edith Nicholson will see in the Montreal Art Association Salon. Apparently, this woman is opening the first gift from her fiance and she is suddenly struck by the meaningfulness of it all. The gift is of slender irises, in cool purple, which are supposed to be just like the 'chaste' girl.

This is how it was described in a newspaper report. In my story Edith's story (follow up to Threshold Girl www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf Edith either will read this at the museum in a paper brochure or hear a living guide say it as he gives a tour. I almost wrote " as SHE gives a tour." Highly unlikely, unless it is a society woman patron. This sighting of this painting is of great significance, as a few days before Edith's great love was killed in a fire. All true!!

So, seeing this painting and then the Maternity one will set her off on some kind of delirium. She has also taken too much nerve tonic, anyway, it being her afternoon off.
Well, 'gift giving' was codified in 1910 courtship. I read in the etiquette columns and books of the 1910 era that a woman NEVER accepts a give from a man, however small, although she can give a small one. Or is it the other way around? (Again, it's the prostitution thing, rearing its ugly head.)

This painting reminds me of Whistlers Lady with a Fan. Or Lady in White.. The one with Japanese tones. A favorite of mine. I think I will look it up. (Just a minute...nah, just the dress, although if the colours are vivid in the still life beside her, maybe it does look like it. When was it done.. (Just a minute) Well, it's called Symphony in White 2 Girl with Fan and it was painted in 1864, so likely Riter saw that painting in Europe somewhere. (Well, I just entered the two names into Google and it appears Riter Hamilton trained at an Academie (Vittie) that rivaled a certain Academie Carmen that Whistler supported. It was in Montparnasse. All things are connected!!

Marion Nicholson obviously gave a Christmas gift to Mr. Blair in 1912. He writes about it in a letter, then says that his gift (a nice one) must have got lost in the mail. A lie? Well, he had just extricated himself from a relationship where the girl obviously felt they had an understanding. So it was all very tricky for men and for women.

Alas, Marion wasn't one to follow the rules of the day anyway.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More of What Edith will Read


Of all the actions of the Suffragettes none have been so widely misunderstood as the prison mutiny and the hunger strike. Even among those who have nothing but admiration for the women who have faced ill-usage and imprisonment for protesting at Cabinet Minister’s meetings, or for taking part in deputations to the Prime Minister at the House of Commons, there are many who regard the hunger strike not merely as tactically and perhaps morally wrong, but as justifying to some extent the statement that the militant Suffragists are hysterical and unbalanced.

This criticism is partly due to the fact that the prison mutiny and hunger strike were the latest phase of militancy – and it has been a noteworthy feature at every stage of the present campaign that critics have fastened upon the latest militant methods for attack, while condoning and even sometimes expressing approval of earlier militant methods – and partly due to the fact that the outside public have never properly realized that there was an important principle underlying the apparently unaccountable behaviour of the Suffragettes in prison.
To incur WANTONLY additional punishment in prison, to undergo GRATUITOUSLY the terrible ordeal of starvation, to submit to the torture and forcible feeding rather than act rationally – these might be evidences of hysteria; but to determine, FOR A SUFFICIENTLY IMPROTANT PURPOSE, on a course of action without flinching, and to carry it through to the bitter end – these are evidences of a well-balanced mind and an heroic and untameable spirit.

To understand the action of the Suffragettes it is necessary to go back in history and trace in brief the treatment which has been adopted in past centuries and in other countries towards those who, like the present day Suffragettes, have incurred imprisonment, not on account of degrading crimes implying moral turpitude, but on account of actions taken with a political object.

In ancient days shoe who conspired to reform the government were dealt with barbarously; first they were tortured, then they were killed, and finally their bodies were mutilated. Later on, though the death penalty was still enacted, the savage accompaniments were omitted. As times advance, public opinion demanded greater and greater differentiation between the treatment of ordinary criminals punished for their selfish anti-social actions and that of men and women who had run counter to the law in consequence of their political views.

Even in the Bastille, we find political prisoners given considerable privileges; thus Parades was allowed to have what books he pleased, to carry on correspondence, and to be visited by friends. In the early part of the last century Cobbett was imprisoned in this country; not only did he have books and correspondence, but he was actually allowed to have the constant company of one of his children, who took up his abode in the prison to be with him. The condition of the political prisons of Neapolitan King Bomba in the forties raised a storm of indignation in the is country, because though they had certain privileges as to writing and reading, they were in other respects treated as common criminals and subjected to unhealthy and degrading conditions.

From the commencement, in dealing with the Suffrage prisoners, the Government departed from this honourable tradition.

Christobel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney, in October 1905, were sentenced to the third division in Strangways Gaol, Manchester, and were thus classed as the lowest criminals. Again in July, 1906, Annie Kenney and the others suffered imprisonment in the second division (a slightly better class, but still totally different from that allotted to political offenders.) In October 1906, ten more women were arrested and nine were sent to the second division and one to the third. This time, considerable feeling was aroused, because among the number was the daughter of Richard Cobden. Liberal members appealed to the Home Secretary, Mr. Gladstone, and he made representations to the magistrate, and they were transferred to the first division and received treatment approximating to that of political prisoners. For some twelve months, this practice prevailed, then once again, the old methods was adopted. Suffrage prisoners were sent to the second and in some cased to the third division and there suffered the full treatment of prison discipline. Visitors and correspondence were only allowed at rare intervals, and the latter was always open to inspection by the authorities. Permission was refused Christabel Pankhurst to write a book in prison, which was not to have been published until she came out.

At first women suffrage prisoners accepted this without protest the punishment which was meted out to them; their compassion for the ordinary prisoners (many of whom for quite trivial offences were being treated in a way which would evidently unfit them for life when they came out) prompted them to protest rather against the whole system of prison treatment than against the absence of differentiation in their favour. But as time went on they realized that by remaining silent on this matter they were allowing the traditions of proper treatment of political offenders to be abrogated, and in order that the future political prisoners might not suffer It was necessary to protest.
At first their protest was confined to words; the Home Secretary appealed to. He refused to make any change, and offered two excused for his position – firstly, that the matter was one for the magistrate and not for himself, secondly, that the offenses were ordinary breaches of the law and to be punished as such. To these he subsequently added a third excuse to the effect that the prisoners had for a time been put in the first division but had abused their privileges. There is an element of inconsistency in these replies, which are to some extend mutually destructive, but in addition each can be directly answered.

The Home Secretary undoubtedly possesses the power by the use of the Royal Prerogative of mercy to order the removal of a prison to a higher class. Even without using this he can make recommendations to the magistrate, as was actually done in 1906. …

With regard to the second assertion, that the Suffragettes are not political offenders, we have the decision of an English Court in the year 1891 in the extradition case of Rex vs. Cathioni, in which it was laid down that an offence is political if it is committed with a political object, even thought it be the offence of murder itself. Moreover, we have the test offered by the Rr. Honorable Gladstone, of public opinion , whether in the eyes of the public the offender is considered guilty of moral turpitude.
According to both these, all the women suffrage prisoners have been political offenders.
As for Mr. Gladstone’s third excuse, no charge was ever made at the time, nor has any charge whatever been formulated since.

When Mrs. Pankurst and Christable Pankhurst had been in prison together in the autumn of 1908, Mrs. Pankhurst had claimed the right to speak to her daughter while in exercise. This led to a severe reproof from the wardresses, which roused the anger of the other suffragettes present., who made a protest. Punishments were meted out all around, and Mrs. Pankhurst was kept in close confinement, but at length, the Government gave in and she was permitted to talk to her daughter at stated times.

It was not, however, till June 1909, that prison tactics were decided on by the members of the WSPU, as a definite ploy. The essential feature was that a claim was to be made for treatment as political offenders. If this was disregarded a protest was to be made inside the walls of the prison. This would take the shape of a passive resistance to prison regulations, to wearing prison dress, to confinement in separate cells, to routines of prison life; and this was to be followed by breaking the windows of the cells, at once a vigorous protest against prison discipline and a concrete and effective method o f remedying a serious abuse, the absence of proper ventilation.
All these methods were, in fact, carried out, but by the heroic courage of one woman a still more terrible method was been put into operation. Miss Wallace Dunlop adopted as the strongest protest she could make, a method used in the Russian Prisons by the prisoners –hunger strike. The hunger strike is passive resistance carried to its supreme limit. It offers no active resistance to wrong, but it frankly stakes life in the effort to win justice.

Mrs Wallace Dunlop said in effect to the Government; “I hold the rights of political prisoners so sacred that I am willing to die in their defence; choose, therefore, between doing justice and allowing me to die in prison.”

It was a terrible step to take, involving untold suffering as well as risk of life, but Mrs. Wallace Dunlop with a full sense of seriousness of what she was doing, had made up her mind and intended to go through with what she had undertaken. In sprite of threats and cajoling, in spite of great physical distress, she remained firm. And the end of four days, the Government gave in. They would not give her political treatment, it is true, but equally, they would not let her die in prison. They ordered her release.

Thirteen other woman suffrage prisoners who went to Holloway a few days later also adopted the hunger strike. They first they carried out the protest against prison discipline which they had premeditated. For this they had to face the severe rigours of prison punishment, close confinement for several days without exercise in narrow, airless and semi dark cells, and under under these conditions may of them faced hunger for three, four, five and some for over six days. In the end they all won; their spirit proved triumphant over physical suffering. They were released by order of the Government lest that great releaser, Death should free them from their bondage before their sentences expired.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Edith hears a Suffrage Speech!

Australia and New Zealand petititon the new king for votes for all women in the Commonwealth.

This is the first part of a speech by a Reverend Startup, given at the first meeting of the WSPU after King Edward's death. It is a great speech. Read it out loud for full effect. In Edith's Story, my follow up to Threshold Girl www.tighsolas.ca/page1o.pdf.pdf I am going to have Edith here this speech, or hear someone reading it with passion. And she'll be converted to the militant cause.

We meet under the shadow of a great national loss. None of King Edward’s subjects were more loyal to him or hold him in more affectionate memory than the members of the Women’s Social and Political Union, comprising, as they do, women of all classes and of every shade of political opinion. At this our first public meeting since his death, we turn again to the task to which we have set our hand, animated by the same principle that ever animated our beloved King, the love of country and fidelity to public duty.

Because, let there be no mistake about it, this women’s cry for enfranchisement is not the clamour of self-interest, nor the rebellious shout of those who fell their rights are being refused them. These elements enter of necessity into their thoughts; but, in the main, the movement springs from a deep conviction that the interests of the State demand the frank and equal co-operation of men and women, and that the gravest problems in front of us are only to be solved when men and women have entered together upon their common inheritance of civic and national responsibility. Like all great movements this is essentially unselfish; it comes not from a keen sense of individual wrong, but from a wider outlook, a profounder sympathy, a deeper appreciation of the claims of all around us to a fuller and richer and more joyous life.
The characteristics of unselfishness should make us all hesitate very much before allowing ourselves to be found in opposition to it. The granting of the vote to women is the crow and seal of a long process of emancipation, to be discerned by every student of history. In this process some part of the human race had to lead and since life is an evolution form the lower and physical to the higher and the spiritual, it is natural that the lead should have been taken by those who, in the primitive stages of the race, exercised the lordship given by simple brute force.

Thus it came to pass that the emancipation of men, the recognition of their civic responsibility and of their consequent right to civic power has preceded the emancipation of women. But it would be easy, I think, to show what the process in the case of women , thought slower and more imperceptible, has really been going on , until today , women all over the world are demanding, as the men have done before them, the recognition of their rights. They have acquired not only a sense of civic and national responsibility, but they have qualified themselves in every way for the fulfilment of that responsibility. They now ask for the vote, an instrument without which that work cannot be accomplished.

They do not, however, attack any exaggerated value to the vote; the simple fact is that it is the instrument of political power. There is no perfect government under heaven, either democratic or autocratic. The only perfect government would be the perfect behaviour of every individual citizen without control from anybody, and that would be anarchy in the ideal sense. But we have ot reached that point yet, and in the meantime, our government is the resultant of many forces – it is the outcome of the instincts and the self-interest of the mass, a sort of ‘general average of the community’. In the striking of that average, in the expression of those human instincts , in the guarding of those interests – women have hitherto been left out of account. Perhaps they were not ready for it before, but whether that be so or not, they can now no longer be left out of account without serious injustice to themselves and serious injury to the State. The process of emancipation in the case of men would have been vain if in the end they had not won the recognition of their citizenship; aspiration, mental and moral struggle, education, and development would have been useless if they had not culminated in higher responsibilities and more arduous tasks.

What is true in their case is true in yours, and therefore I say the political enfranchisement of women is the crown and seal of a long process of emancipation that has always been going on, and that can no more be kept back than the stars can be hindered in their course, or the tides in their flow.

When this enfranchisement comes, women will bring to bear upon the problems of the day just those qualities in which women most excel. These problems are communal, not individualistic. The community is something more than a mass of individuals, it is a living entity; the individual is not a separate creation, fashioned apart, the community itself precedes and shapes the individual; none of his characteristics, both good and evil, have any meaning except in the light of his relationship to those around him. This being so, it is of some importance to remember that the qualities of which women excel are just those that are most needed in the solution of the grave and difficult question with which today the world is face; those qualities are patience, enthusiasm and perception.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Staring me in the Face All the Time

Well, this picture here is one that I've had on hand for years, but it is only since I made a clear scan that I realized that Edith and Marion are wearing the hats bought at Ogilvy's in April 1909.. Edith's a big black shape with ribbon, and little pink roses and Marion a smaller hat turned up at the side with flowers matching her blue dress.

With the cleared scan you can see the BIG BLACK SHAPE. She wasn't exaggerating at all.

I'm having Edith pass Ogilvy's in the first chapter of Edith's Story... on her way to the Art Gallery at Phillip's Square and remember back to when she bought the hat, before her boyfriend got killed in the Rossmore fire.

She paid 7.50 and she made only 200 a year!!

I'll have it that she bought it because she felt sad that he was sent to Cornwall..as a consolation prize.. but no consolation prize will do now..

Monday, August 15, 2011

Halley's Comet 1910

Well, I've been researching that first chapter of Edith's Story, the follow up to Threshold Girl www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf

In this chapter, Edith's 'love' Charlie Gagne has just died in the Rossmore Hotel Fire at Cornwall. Under the influence of too much 'nerve tonic' she leaves the Institute on Greene and goes to Phillip's Square and sees some paintings by Mary Riter Hamilton that set her off.

Anyway, I re-read some accounts of the fire and it appears Mr. Gagne was from Levis. So I checked the 1901 census and sure enough, he's there. He lives with his mom, a couturier and his sister, also a couturier. Hmm. Catholics. Double HMMM. So I guess I will have to make it that he was converted to Presybertianism at Westmount Methodist.

His mom being widowed and all that.. I will have it that she is doing well, as she got a lot of work for the 1908 Tercentenary Celebrations, making costumes for the galas, etc.

The Rossmore was a luxury hotel, so I can assume he is in Cornwal to act as manager, that he on the fast track to success.

He had been in Danville, at the bank of Montreal.

Anyway, another account of the fire online, says that a hotel patron was watching for Halley's Comet when he smelled smoke.

This is great thing for my story...As the 1910 Gazettes and Montreal Stars aren't available online, I have to go to Concordia or McGill soon.. Charlie's pictures in the Montreal Star. Edith wrote as much in her letter. As the fire started in the early hours of the 29th, the news report is either in the paper of the 29th (Star) or 30th.(Gazette.)

Anyway, I remembered I have all the Technical World Magazines for 1910, and figured they'd have a story on Halley's Comet and they did.. In July, by the excellent writer Bailey Millard. But it's a puff piece, as it were. I can imagine Millard was told to write this story by his editor, because the 'tone' suggests he isn't quite into it... An excellent writer, you see.

"Staggering questions, not unlike some of the posers with which children stump their elders, have been put to many scientific men in rfelation to the supposed effect of Halley's Comet upon our pleasant planet. Over and over again have the wise ones been asked, Was the comet responsible for the unprecendented atmospheric and seismic disturbances that brought so much woe to the human race during the first half of the present year?

Is a man a superstitious fool to blame any of those cataclysmic upheavals, devestating inundations, terrible typhoons, frightful and unseasonable frosts and snows, or unprecedented heat upon the comet? On this misty subject of cometary influence upon mundane affairs, are the scientific any wiser than the unscientific.

Then he describes the Seine floods of February and a heatwave in the US in the Spring, and 86 degrees in Medicine Hat Alberta in April and 100 degrees in LA. And an eruption of Mount Etna and earthquake in Costa Rica and a shower of large meteors, one setting a fire in El Paso. And Northern Lights which played havoc with the wireless systems of steamers.

Well, well. Millard goes on to say, "Plainly we are children in this branch of research.." Well, we still are. Not much has changed when it comes to how humans think.

In and around the turn of the last century I do believe that a giant sunflare wrecked havoc on the embryonic electrical systems of the era. If such a thing happens again, well, imagine what will happen. I might lose my blog and website! Because a lot has changed in 100 years, when it comes to how humans store their information.

(Well, a lot worse will happen to me if the Montreal ice storm of January 1998 is any indication.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The King is Dead

I went to bed thinking about Edith's Story, the follow up to Threshhold Girl at www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf and I dreamt about it at night, so that's a good sign.

I'll start with the Bell Advertisement, about the Telephone, showing the grey haired lady keeping in touch with her family. (Just like Margaret.)

Then I'll put in Edith's letter of May 3, where she thanks her Mom for the phone call... "Your voice sounded so natural."

And then I'll start the narrative at May 7, when the news of King Edward's death is all over the newspapers.

"The King is dead. Long Live the King"

Edith, in an opium haze, as Dr. Villard has given her some 'nerve tonic' will tell how she met a student on the stairs, a young boy, who said "the King is dead. His last word were "I have done my duty.".. which was the PR of the time. And being depressed and cynical, she will say, "I doubt that."

And the death of her beau, Mr. Gagne and the king will get all mushed up.. in this first chapter.

That will be the first chapter...opium haze Edith...her school described through this haze. Hmm.

Because, of course, the rest of the story will have the real Edith, all prim and proper and Presbyterian.

A few years ago, when I was researching the fire that killed her beau, which I found out to be the Rossmore Fire in Cornwall, I went to McGill and dug out the Star and found the newspaper was full of news of the King's Death and also had an insert about the horse show...

I will have Edith avoiding reading about the King, although normally she'd be eating it all up. Everyone else at the school will be reading about it, though - and talking about it - so it will be hard for her to avoid.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Looking for Carrie Derick bio

Women shoppers on Queen Street Toronto, outside Simpson's. 1912.

Well, I spent the morning negotiating the construction at Pine and Dr. Penfield streets to get to McGill's Life Sciences Library in the Medical Building... only to find that NO FOOL SHE, the biography of Carrie Derick that is listed in their online catalogue as being on the library shelves isn't there.

The McGill Librarians, as usual, were most obliging...but it was no use. The slim volume by Margaret Gillett is lost or gone and that medical sciences library is the only one that has it.

Anyway, I discovered a paper that cited the book and that claimed that the book was a PhD thesis, so I went to McGill and looked up their theses, which are online. Still didn't find it. (Of course, I didn't. Gillett was a Columbia student.)

Still, I downloaded a couple of these McGill theses, one by an architecture student, Deborah L. Miller, aboutMcGill's Royal Victoria College, near McGill but not too near.. She describes Phillips Square, with Morgan's and Birks and a park with no benches, so no ogling male eyes, as a woman's space. Very interesting!

Double interesting as Edith was assistant warden at RVC in the twenties. I have a letter where she is discussing the unhappy lives of some of the students - for they pour their hearts out to her. Then she praises her own happy childhood. Hmm.

With Threshold Girl finished www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf.

I am writing the sequel, about Edith Nicholson and that story will feature Carrie Derick, Canada's first female full professor. Indeed, I just added a line to Threshold Girl, where I have Flora remark that Carrie Derick studies flowers but does not wear them on her hat! (She is plain, you see, like Flora.)

Carrie Mathilda Derick, of the Eastern Townships, whose only biography doesn't exist, even at McGill's Osler Library, although I am told if I can track down a copy, I should photocopy it and bring it to the library.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Parlour Games 1910

Flora Nicholson and May Watters in Nantucket, 1908.

I spent my primary and elementary school years in a duplex in Montreal, 5 rooms.

We had a living room, my mother sometimes called a parlour.

The place we watched TV.

I see that in the UK they call living rooms reception rooms. Most Victorian row houses have 2 reception rooms. I assume this is because, in Victorian houses, you had a sitting room for the family and a parlour, closer to the door, for guests.

It was this way in Tighsolas in 1910.

The parlour was closed most of the time. In Threshold Girl, www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf Flora airs the room out for the Ladies Aid meeting.

A parlour, then, is a formal 'reception room.' A living room is where the family gathers, when it isn't so cold you stay in the kitchen. In French Canadian homes, there were huge kitchens, and the huge families congregated there.

Today we have living rooms and family rooms... home theatre rooms, whatever. There's a TV screen and other screens in everyroom, so the 'electronic fireplace' has no special allure, unless, like in our house, it is the biggest screen, with dvd player.

In my house, while the kids were at home, all the house was a living room. The kids went where they pleased. I recall being surprised when a woman told me she kept the kids out of the living room.

It's obvious why in 1910 they kept the parlour closed. A clean house was sooo important, that's how a woman was judged. A clean house meant a clean mind and clean morality.

So keeping a room always clean for visitors decreased the chance of being the target of criticism and evil gossip.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Post War NDG and Morgan's

Another nice picture of my Aunt Flo in NDG, no doubt. The little houses in the back are the kind they built for soldiers returning after the war.

My Aunt Flo had white hair since she was about 20. She's about 40 here. She always looked nice as she worked as a salesgirl at the Hudson's Bay, or Morgan's, and got her dresses at a discount. She had no kids, so spent her spare money on herself, while living quite frugally. She lived on a street called West Hill and maybe this is the park adjacent, which later became the grounds of Marymount High School.

Anyway, I invited some scholars to look over my draft of Threshold Girl.. a bold move, but what else do you do?

It worked out well...

A new Delineator is coming today, and I will incorporate some of it into the book. It's the Delineator for August 1911, the month the Nicholsons are sewing Flora up for school. I have no idea what articles the issue contains, as the seller didn't think they'd be of any interest. But I am sure they will be.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dr. Henry, here you are!

an unknown man, I will say is Dr. Henry Watters. He certainly looks like one of the clan.... even my own husband. He could easily be Herb's cousin. And I have a casual snap of him, between two unknown women, so I'll say they are his sisters Christina and May.

He's buried in Melbourne and Herb, I just found out from a cousin of my husband's is buried in California. In Westminster Memorial Park in Long Beach, if he is buried with his wife, who was a Magdalena.

He died in 1970, and was still practicing real estate.

I've damaged this pic of Henry a bit. I just found it a while back.

I have seen one 'true' image of Henry, in a obit from the Newton Newspaper sent to me by the Historical Society there.

It was a photocopy of a microfilm, so pretty bad... but it could be this guy. Yes, easily, it could be.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Ouimetoscope gets a Commemorative Billboard

The Ouimetoscope building lost its plaque, but they put up a historical billboard (or whatever it's called) in "the Village" to honour its history.

My husband texted me this picture yesterday.

The Ste Catherine Village From Yesterday to Today... I saw a similar thing in Brockville..